Leading presidential bet Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte sent a strong message to China during the last presidential debate held in Pangasinan on Sunday.
According to Chinese newspaper published on Monday, several high-ranking Chinese officials are worried about Duterte’s comment.
Last Sunday, during the presidential debate, Duterte claimed that he would be ready to die to assert the country’s claims over the South China Sea spat.
“If we win the arbitration case against China and China does not comply, I will not go to war; I will go to China to talk to them. If they don’t want to talk, then I will ask the Navy to bring me to the nearest boundary at Scarborough, I will ride the jetski and plant the Philippine flag there in their port,” Duterte said as quoted by Interaksyon.
“I will say this is ours, do what you want to do to me. It is my long time ambition to be a national hero. If I die in South China Sea, then I will leave the crying to my Filipino people,” he added.
The newspaper said it will be difficult for China to pursue its claim if Duterte is true to his words.
“You can send away their fishermen and even their navy, but not their president. It will be a big big problem”, Chinese Navy Admiral Wang Kang Shang told the paper.
Critics of the mayor earlier said Duterte don’t care about West Philippine Sea, but there is a sudden turn of event after Duterte’s recent assertion.
“We are not prepared for this kind of thing. We need to revise our plan on South China Sea”, Shang added.
“This is the first time that a statement from a Filipino leader rocks Chinese officials, and thus we considered it a serious matter that needs reconsideration”, the paper said. /Primo Lamayo/